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Reviews for Wednesday Oct 13 Releases

October 17, 2010

I apologize for the delay but here are the reviews for the comics I picked up for Oct 13, including: Bruce Wayne the Road Home: Batgirl #1, Batman/Catwoman 100 Page Spectacular #1, Tiny Titans/little Archie and his Pals #1, Warlord of Mars #1, Sonic Universe #21 and GI Joe Origins #20.

As a new ongoing review feature, I will now state if the comic passes or fails the Bechdel Test. What’s the Bechdel Test you ask? It’s a metric that shows female involvement in the plot by asking three simple questions:

1) Does it have two or more named women
2) Who talk to each other
3) About something other then a man?

Note a comic can be positive and fail the test or be negative and pass… But it is useful for tracking trends. Soon we’ll be adding pages to the blog that will list failures and successes, as well as many other useful pages. So stay tuned!

Tiny Titans/little Archie and his Pals #1


Tiny Titans/little Archie and his pals #1
Writers: Art Baltazar & Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar
Co-Editor: Kristy Quinn
Co-Editor: Chynna Clugston Flores
Consulting Editor: Victor Gorelick
Special Thanks to Archie Comics: Jonathan Goldwater & Mike Pellerito

AWWWW, YEAH CROSSOVERS! The Tiny Titans outing with the lil’ Archie gang is one romp that that is sure to bring a smile to even the most cynical of comic fans. The Comic starts with a one page explanation of how Sidekick City and Riverdale share the same downtown including the comic shop, pizza parlour and dry cleaners. And thus is is that our adventure begins in the most cliche way possible, with Alfred and Mrs. Andrew’s getting each others dry cleaning. So Archie ends up dressed like Robin and vice versa. This leads to a gag where the Titans think Archie is Robin and the Archie gang… well you get the point.

And yes it’s cliche and silly, but that’s the point! Also the two groups confusion kinda spotlight something with diverse art styles sometimes the costume is all you can go by, not a problem for Archie where the art is very strictly mandated to only two styles for the main stories and a couple different styles for Sabrina and lil’ Archie and things like that, but a problem that often pops up in mainstream comics.

Speaking of the Art it’s nothing to rave about, if you know Tiny Titans you know what to expect, adorable looking SD kids.

There’s two more story sections one involves the connection between Mrs. Grundy and Solomon Grundy (this is hilarious), the other involves the friendship of Principle Slade, Vice-Principle Trigon and Mr. Weatherbee.

Comic Quality 4/5
Out of the Fridge Rank: 4
Bechdel Test: Pass

Warlord of Mars #1


Written by: Arvid Nelson
Illustrated by: Stephen Sadowski
Colored by: Adriano Lucas
Lettered by: Troy Peteri
Covers by: Alex Ross (30%) J. Scott Campbell (30%) Joe Jusko (30%), Lucio Parrillo (10%)
Based on the Stories by: Edgar Rice Buroughs

Oooh boy, this one is a challenge for me to review dear readers. I love old pulps, I love Lensmen and it’s ilk, and while I’ve never checked out the John Carter of Mars books I’ve been meaning to for some time. When dealing with pulps you have to be aware of the cultural time frame and take that into consideration, which doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t call a spade a spade and point out racism and/or sexism when it appears just be aware that such things are partly a product of their times.

But this is not a pulp; this is a modern reworking of a pulp, which tries to maintain the pulp feel but take advantage of relaxed standards.

The comic is split into two stories the first follows our protagonist John Carter, an ex-confederate soldier, as he and a friend, another ex-confed James Powell, try to find their fortune in Virgina. Some soldiers try to run the pair of the a saloon when they refuse to toast the memory of Abraham Lincoln, and it eventually leads to a gunfight when the soldiers curse Jeff Davis, Bobby Lee and the state of Virginia. The fight ends with Carter and his friend victorious and only one member of the squad alive, which the barkeep, also a former Confederation man, finishes off.

Then just so we know the jerky Union Soldiers were the bad guys, we see Powell pull out eh scalp of an Apache child.

That completed the pair go on their way.

We then get to hear the story of Tharkis the Green Martian and how he became the leader of his people, or the start of it, anyway. The setup is some women and children Green Martians being held captive but cannibalistic White Martians. The Martians are a four armed race who go around completely naked (male and female) aside from a belt to hold whatever needs holding. This was an important element of the books, all three martian races eschew clothing, and I have no problem with that; it’s nice to see it carried over to the comics. Anyway after a very brutal fight, our hero Tharkis wishes to condemn the sole remaining adult martian, a woman, to death by being tossed over a ceremonial cliff because she called out in fright when attacked. He explains that the children can be forgiven for they have not yet had the weakness beat out of them, but the woman is almost 30 and she is weak. The other rescuer says that’s for the Jed to decide, and Tharkis determines to call a tribunal to hear what this Jed has to say…

So I wasn’t sure what I was expecting going into this, but this comic makes me uncomfortable.

While I’m sure there were many decent folk in the South’s army and many rotten one’s in the North… Really the South was defending a monstrous institution, and I’m not comfortable with it’s glorification juxtaposed with the demonization of the North; nor the idea that John Carter was a noble freedom fighter (a lot of irony in that).

I’m a little uncomfortable to what is happening to the Martian woman as well… more so that it was the one we were told is the hero, and a just man who despite not being human exemplifies the best of humanity, who wants to kill her.

I’m not giving it a ranking quality wise, or an out of the fridge rank at this time as I don’t feel it’s fair to do so till I see where it’s going. But it’s extremely violent and abrasive in this first issue.

Bechdel Test: Fail
(only one female character, so far).

Sonic Universe #21



Writer: Ian Flynn
Pencils: Tracy Yardley
Inks: Jim Amash
Colors: Jason Jensen
Letters: Phil Felix
Cover: Tracy Yardley & Ben Hunzeker
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Editor-in-Chief: Victor Gorelick
President: Mike Pellerito
Special thanks to: Ciny Chau and Jerry Chu at Sega Licensing.


Treasure Team Tango Part 1 of 4

Okay I don’t quite now what’s up with the first page here, some cops with hovercars chase come guy called Dr. Nega who drops a capsule. Maybe some more well versed Sonic Comic fans can fill me in? Anyway it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the rest of the story.

Amy Rose is showing the recently displaced Vanilla The Rabbit and her daughter Cream the Rabbit around freedom fighter HQ. Nicole informs Amy that there’s a weird energy signal coming from the forest, so Amy goes to check it out taking Cream and her pet Chao along with her; no sooner have they set out then they run afoul of Blaze the Cat who is after the Sol. Emeralds.

One short hero-misunderstanding fight, which ends when Amy mentions Sonic and the two realize that they have a mutual friend, later Amy offers to help Blaze find the Emeralds, she also realizes she should have known who Blaze was because Sonic had told her about her.

I do rather like that Blaze lampshades this turn around which is so common in comics.

“We were viciously fighting a minute ago! Now you want to help me?”

“If you’re cool with Sonic, you’re cool with us! c’mon team! Before someone beats us to it!”

Blaze reluctantly takes them along, even though she doubts they’re trustworthiness, but just a short while later another woman shows up to join the party, Rouge. This sets up a triangle of mutual distrust, Amy doesn’t trust Rouge, and Blaze doesn’t trust anyone. Blaze reveals that the crystals are needed to keep her world alive.

Despite their mutual distrust they overcome all obstacles together, and make it to the Emerald. But then Rouge reveals she’s really taking it for herself after all! This, of course, prompts Blaze to cut her escape route off with her pyrokensis. But then Blaze summons back up in the form of Shadow and Omega, and that’s where the comic leaves off… promising battle between Team Dark and Team Rose.

Quality Rating 3.5/5 -Plot was a bit slow moving and predictable but it’s still a fun Sonic Comic-
Out of the Fridge Rank 3/5 -Out of the Fridge-

Pros:
-The comic showcased mostly the female characters working together
-All of the girls, and women have unique personalities and are competent at their jobs
-Mutual respect among all the characters

Cons:
-Amy introducing herself as Sonic’s future sweetheart, especially since in the comic-verse he’s with Sally
-When Blaze calls for backup she play acts as a damsel in distress, “Oh! If only ther ewere some big, strong men around to back up poor, defenseless little me!”

Bechdel Test: Pass (almost all characters are female, including all speaking roles aside from the characters on the first page, very little mention of the guys other then brief references to Sonic and the appearance of Shadow at the end).

Batman/Catwoman 100 Page Spectacular


Writer: Ann Nocenti
Aritst: Ethan Van Scriver
Inkers: Rich Faber, Rodney Ramos
Colorist: Chris Chuckry
Letter: John Costanza

You know if there was any publicizing what this book was about before it came out, I missed it dear reader. What we have is actually a reprint of a 2004, two issue mini-series called Batman/Catwoman Trail of the Gun, collected into an over-sized and overpriced volume. I feel like I have egg on my face buying this one.

The story is about a new gun that shoots that heat seeking bullets so it never misses, the greatest thief of all time Pike Peavy is after it and so is the Catwoman. The story is told as a flashback as Catwoman narrates the caper to a reporter trying to clear her name of murder using this weapon, murder she isn’t sure she’s innocent of. Also interested are the founder of a gun company who is trying to mend his ways his son who is a straw-man business tycoon out to profit from guns and who has no remorse about marketing to children, his dumb as nails white power, armed to the teeth body guard, and a few other characters on either side of the fence.

A third of the comic is taken up quoting stats, either via talking heads on TV broadcasts or Batman trying to point out the dangers of guns to Catwoman will she plugs her ears and refuses to listen, she hates guns too but she just wants to prove she’s the best thief in the world.

Anyway ultimately this is the worst out of three Batman PSA’s I’ve read, not because it’s a bad comic… Far from it if the gun debate was scaled back a tad it’d actually be pretty good; Catwoman’s morals being tested by the chance to boost her reputation and getting over her head. But all the personal stories, one sided facts and straw-man opposition can’t hide the fact that a heat seeking gun is not only improbable, it’s also stupid! The comic itself points this out towards the end, oh it likens the gun to the A-bomb meant as a deterrent rather then an escalation, but it also points out that it doesn’t work because it can’t discriminate between heat sources.

You know I’m willing to go further then most, because I think a PSA can be done with Batman or Spider-man, they’re human enough that you can see them struggling with problems like this; you kinda have to forget the greater DC world for a moment because Batman would just call in Superman or Supergirl, or someone. But I can not take a comic about a heat seeking gun seriously when it’s preaching to me about normal guns.

I object to the fact that this wasn’t labelled. I object to the fact that the conflict between the father and son was routed in a traumatic childhood accident with a swing set, that has nothing to do with guns… thereby weakening it’s argument.

Hell I should object to the fact that the back cover has an ad for the movie RED starring Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman which boasts the tag line “Still Armed. Still Dangerous. Still Got it.” But I just don’t care…

DC I want my 8 bucks back…

Quality Rank 2/5
Out of the Fridge Rank 3/5
Bechdel Test: Fail
(only one major female character, no interaction between female characters)

Bruce Wayne The Road Home: Batgirl #1


Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Shane Davis and Barbara Ciaordo
Editor: Sean Ryan
Batman Group Editor: Mike Marts
Batman Created by: Bob Kane

While I was pretty sure I’d love this comic based on what I’ve seen and read of Bryan Miller’s Batgirl series this comic has 100% sold me on him has a writer and his take on the character. Miller achieves a very difficult feat; he actually makes me believe that Stephanie is a real college aged girl. From her nervous energy, to her mix of love/awe/fear and resentment towards Batman and her relationship with Oracle as the beloved but nosey and irritating older sister there’s just so much good characterization here.

Batgirl is tracking down a thief who has stolen an experimental rifle from Wayne Tech, a thief that Barbara tells her she isn’t ready to go against. While this is going on we get the narration of Barbara and okay *SPOILER ALERT* the thief is the resurrected Bruce Wayne. When Stephanie learns this she slaps him and runs away, she then explains that she’s not going to fight for his approval anymore and he has no right to take the Batgirl gig away from her; which is exactly what he wanted to hear.

Batman is a jerk, but then he always kinda is, and Stephanie’s mixed emotions at his return are totally believable. The one thing I thought was cool but didn’t totally get was the Vicki Vale “Quest” but that’s probably woven through all of the “Road Home” comics.

One more side-note that was great, Stephanie refuses to let Oracle or Proxy “gender” the thief until they know who it is.

The art is great: a little awkward in some shots, but the close ups are really expressive and Perez’s poses really help capture that college girl energy Stephanie gives out… especially when she’s on Oracle’s couch.

Quality Rating: 5/5
Out of the Fridge Rating: 5/5
(Nowhere Near the Fridge, overwhelmingly positive)
Pros:
-Stephanie’s quest to accept herself
-Her standing up to Batman
-Her refusal to gender the perp without knowing for sure what gender he is.

Cons:

-One instance of the word “tramp”, Oracle to Vicki Vale
Bechdel Test: Pass? -Most of the comic has women talking to each other and while they discuss a variety of topics the thief, who of course is male is main theme of the conversations. It’s hard to judge if this is a pass or not-

GI Joe Origins #21

Writers: David Lapham
Art: Werther Dell'Edera
Colors: J. Brown
Letters Neil Uyetake
Assistant Editor: Carlos Guzman
Editor: Andy Schmidt

Where does a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world get it’s fighting men and women? Are they true believers, in the cause willing to die for a faceless leader because they think it’s the right thing? Or are they just mercenaries out of make a buck? There have been a few times when writers have answered that question, and of course the final answer is that they come from all kinds of sources and have all kinds of motivations but this particular recruitment story is chilling.

A non-partisan international aid organization, the IDHA, is often the first responder in times of global crisis, but they’re true purpose is as a front for Cobra. They rank individuals from 1-8 on their imagination, ambition and potential skill and funnel recruits into Cobra who are ranked accordingly. This system was designed after a serial killer who was an 8; a very, very, creepy man who killed, boiled (and presumably ate) around 400 people of Asian descent. Other 8’s include Hitler, Napoleon and so on.

We also learn that someone is messing with the system, sending Cobra the wrong numbers at the wrong levels. And we meet an ex-soldier, who obviously ranks high on this scale but because of his military record and his’ daughter’s ailments cannot afford to look after his family. The story ends with his recruitment into Cobra.

Quality Rank: 4/5 (chilling, and twisted but good)
Out of the Fridge Rank 3/5 -Out of the Fridge-
Some strong women shown but not really enough to say anything about them.
Bechdel Test: Fail (three minor female characters, no interaction between them)

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